59. Just Hit ‘Agree’

“I can find out when Leo will die?”

“You buy the app. You plug in some data. Name. Social Security number. Date of birth. Swipe your credit card and boom. There’s a verification process. Consulting the database. An ethics review, depending. Twenty-four hour turn-around.”

“The day and the hour.”

“Exactly. Mostly the set-up is for self-knowledge, personal planning, estate prep. But in special cases…”

“The Leo scenario…”

“For instance.”

“Where do I sign up?”

“You got your phone?”

“Let me find my purse.”

Jen stood up, took a moment to steady herself. I’d lost track. Was that three or four glasses of champagne she’d put down?

What the hell, I said to myself. As she tottered off I filled my glass.

Oh, to be snuggled again in luxury. Leo snoring somewhere upstairs. Late autumn sun beating through the windows. Fire in the hearth. The smell of warm leather from the chair beneath me. Those champagne butterflies flitting inside my skull. Money. I’d get it back. Like all the cavemen before me, I would provide.

“Here,” Jen said, handing over her phone. She perched on the arm of my chair. Her hair brushed against my cheek. I held her phone, swiped, stabbed. I had some trouble thinking it was the most important thing at the moment. Her perfume flipped certain switches.

“Let’s get the app installed,” I said.

Jen made a purring noise.

I hit Open and there it was, the labor of Duke’s IT kids. The image of an old alarm clock against a stormy sky, the second hand ticking in jerks until it stopped suddenly. Lightning flashed in the background clouds. Then the hand went into motion again.

A little corny, I said at the unveiling, offending everyone. “We’re not selling toothpaste,” Duke countered. “There’s a fine line between dramatic and corny. We’re on the right side of the line.”

“You say so,” I replied.

The language that Pimlipper and the rest of the crew in Legal dreamed up crowded the screen in six-point type.

“Mumbo-jumbo,” I told Jen. “Just hit Agree.”

“I’m not really a dot-the-i type,” she said.

“Just as well.”

“More of a bold strokes gal.” She slid a hand beneath my shirt collar.

“Let’s get down to business, Jen,” I said.

Tomorrow: How do you put a price on that?

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